Gender education and value differences cause mismatches when looking for partners

The expansion of women’s education has led to changes in the differences in educational levels of men and women when searching for a partner. Research conducted by the UAB Center for Demographic Studies (CED-CERCA) has for the first time examined the role of discrepancies in gender role values ​​and education among potential spouses. According to the study, about a third of women who support gender equality and have higher education would not be able to find a gay male partner.

The ‘matching market’ has changed dramatically in recent decades. The most well-known changes in the structure of this market are found in the differences in the educational levels of potential husbands resulting from women’s educational expansion. If there is no potential spouse available (in a given population) with similar resources or characteristics, there is no possibility of having a homogamous partner, which is preferred by many. A study by the Center for Demographic Studies (CED-CERCA) of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) examines for the first time the aspect of gender role values ​​in potential mismatches between spouses.

The importance of the second half of the gender revolution cannot be overlooked. One would expect that, as feminism spreads, the role of men in domestic duties will become increasingly important and that women will therefore increasingly look for a potential partner who values ​​such an egalitarian vision. Using the most recent fertility survey available (2018) for young Spanish men and women, the study examines the combined gender gap (taking into account both the difference in education and values) in Spain.

The study, published in the latest issue of the CED journal Perspectives demogràfiques, distinguishes between the values ​​of gender roles in both aspects of the private sphere and aspects of the public sphere. The difference between men and women in terms of education and egalitarian values ​​is small for people with low and intermediate levels of education. However, among higher educated people there is a ‘shortage’ of men with the same characteristics as women. This ‘shortage’ of men represents 15% for values ​​in the private sphere and 12% for values ​​in the public sphere. This corresponds to a shortage of men in the total population and would imply that about a third of women who support gender equality and higher education would not be able to find a homogamous male partner, while men with low or intermediate levels of education would do so. faces a ‘female shortage’ of women with similar characteristics, although in this case this would be small in absolute terms.

Perhaps this gap in education and egalitarian values ​​could partly explain the growing number of single women with higher levels of education and single men with low levels of education. To confirm this and observe the evolution of this gap in recent years, CED researchers believe that a new fertility survey is necessary, with new data on singles, families, their resources and their values. The study’s authors also recommend support to reduce these differences in education and values, noting that potential couples should be aware of the imperfect partner market of young Spanish adults in the meantime.

Original article:

Van Damme, M. (2024). Mismatches in finding a romantic partner: education and gender values ​​in the Spanish marriage market, Perspectives Demogràfiques, 35: 1-4 (ISSN: 2696-4228). DOI: 10.46710/ced.pd.esp.35

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